More than 50 peacekeepers killed in Somali offensive

March 5, 2011

The weak Somali government has been promising a full-scale war against militants for years, but coordination among its poorly trained, seldom-paid forces has delayed that push.  

Two Nairobi-based diplomats said at least 43 Burundian and 10 Ugandan troops have been killed since Feb. 18, citing information from people involved in the operation. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

In addition, a Burundian soldier has been captured alive by militants, and his image and a recorded statement have been circulating on websites used by al-Shabab, Somalia’s most dangerous insurgent group.

The peacekeeping force says that hundreds of al-Shabab militants have been killed in the offensive and that peacekeepers now control up to 60 percent of Mogadishu.

Two U.N. security officials also said on condition of anonymity that as many as 500 al-Shabab fighters were believed to have been killed during the past two weeks.

Medical authorities say the recent round of fighting has killed more than 100 Somali civilians.